D&D 5E The problem with 5e

Warpiglet-7

Satan’s Echo Chamber! Muhahahaha
it’s a long post. If TLDR, whatevs. If interested read on.

—————————————————

The problem with 5e….is me.

I played a little redbox as a kid with the older kids on the street and later my lifelong pal. And by Jr High, we started playing some AD&D.
In High School we were joined by a few other guys that we went to grade school with. It was game on! Lots and lots of AD&D 1e. We did not like 2e for various reasons and skipped it. Fast forward to grad school and when I was home on break we kept playing….all summer long. All-nighters. It was glorious. None of us had serious relationships at that time so it was possible.

3e hit while I was working on a doctorate. I was far from home but my mind was blown when I saw half-orc paladins. Fresh from 1e, this was a revelation. Skipped 3.5 and 4e and fell into a black hole with little D&D. Our kids, marriages etc. took precedence but being back home and my lifelong buddies is a blessing. Now grizzled family dudes, the call of 5e was strong…our lives permitted at least monthly play. A new fantastic era!

So where is the problem?

I have loved 5e. I think much of it is brilliant. Not in the sense that it has revolutionary mechanics or some trendy elegance but in that it is easier to DM (I refused to DM 3e) and because it has inspired so much character development. We did what we could in 1e, but I have found the choices in 5e (backgrounds and subclasses) has been a goldmine of inspiration. I don’t mean to say that they have it all covered, but with some of my own ideas, they have it all covered. I have developed some novel stories and personalities.

My problem comes in with occasional
dissatisfaction about the level of danger in the game. It seems like people are healed quickly and unless it’s a TPK, it’s not as dangerous and getting beat down lasts a round or two max.
I also have some nostalgia for the logistics of old….worrying about running out of things like torches and food. Some things just seem easier now.

But that is when reality hits me. When we were younger, the way we really got far was by DM fiat. Sure, you could get level drained and miss a death save but more broadly, the DM moderated some consequences so we could have a longer term meaningful story vs. a meatgrinder of anonymous jerks. In short, 5e has merely codified this fiat into the rules. It may not be that different, really.

In terms of moving forward I need to alter my expectations and be clear about what changes might give us a little more sense of danger. For one, it would not take much to make healing a little less automatic. Maybe long rests don’t take care of everything. Perhaps, long rests allow us to expend hit dice…or something. I have to think that through.

The other thing that can at times be frustrating is the power of missile weapons. We don’t tend to favor them as a group but I know the issue exists. In this context, we need to make sure we are not the problem. I think it makes sense to count arrows and make sure what is carried is reasonable and not just “OK” handwaving generous encumbrance rules.

Additionally, I think very careful application of cover rules need to be applied. Firing past a rank of friendlies actively fighting should lead to some penalty if the enemy is in their face. I would want to see partial cover etc. applied routinely here.

In a like vein, the ubiquity of dex builds, if they bother you, are mitigated by actually looking at encumbrance and ammunition accounting (IMHO, to an extent).

In short, for me to get the most enjoyment out of 5e I believe a little stricter approach to the rules that exist, the application of common sense (e.g. encumbrance) and so forth. But ultimately, I need to change my expectations.

I look back fondly at AD&D 1e since it seems to have been grittier and more dangerous. Maybe it was. But the truth is that we house ruled and DMed way into a game with consequences but only occasional death. We made some bad decisions and died more than a few times. Saving or trying to save a friend from tunnels full of ghouls is admirable but perhaps not always doable (found out the hard way). And playing with an evil party and experimenting with a deck of many things after the players (the real people!) have been drinking beers to early morning hours will do that as well!

Ultimately the problem with my enjoyment at times (not too frequent) I think is due to nostalgia and fairy tales I tell myself about older editions. Having said this “out loud” I am very ready to get back to playing with less negative self-talk to get in the way. Our characters are probably going to survive. And its OK.
 
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Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
I get that feeling too from time to time, then I remember how it really was. Deadly with too many house rules. :ROFLMAO:

The way I run 5e:
  • No multi-classing
  • No feats
  • Slow Natural Healing from the DMG.
  • Short Rest are used only to recharge class abilities. No HD healing.
  • Humans, dwarves, elf and halflings only.

If you want you can restrict it further by allowing only classes from AD&D, before Unearthed Arcana. Using Greyhawk as setting is also a good way to scratch that itch!
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
I look back fondly at AD&D 1e since it seems to have been grittier and more dangerous. Maybe it was. But the truth is that we house ruled and DMed way into a game with consequences but only occasional death. We made some bad decisions and died more than a few times. Saving or trying to save a friend from tunnels full of ghouls is admirable but perhaps not always doable (found out the hard way). And playing with an evil party and experimenting with a deck of many things after the players (the real people!) have been drinking beers to early morning hours will do that as well!

Ultimately the problem with my enjoyment at times (not too frequent) I think is due to nostalgia and fairy tales I tell myself about older editions. Having said this “out loud” I am very ready to get back to playing with less negative self-talk to get in the way. Our characters are probably going to survive. And its OK.

There are numerous ways to run 5e and make it like 1e. I do it.

You can also just run 1e, or OSE, or a different retroclone.

It will never be the same. The past is a foreign country.

It was different then, because you were different. You were younger. D&D was new. You had time (that you do not have now). Most likely you had a lot more friends that you had personal connections with (this is a common side effect of growing older- few people have the same social connections and closeness that they did in high school, college, and their 20s).

And, in addition to all of that, people tend to remember the best aspects of the past, and not the worst. You remember the thrill of the danger of level drains, but not having to wait 3 hours reading a book because you failed a save v. petrification and the rest of the party didn't have any way to turn you back handy.
 


DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Nice OP.

There is no problem with 5E. There never was. When I first started playing about two years, we played strictly RAW (so to say) for the first 5 levels, which took about 3 months IIRC. The game worked fine. Sure, there were some things that didn't sit well with me, but nothing that would keep me from playing the game and enjoying time with my friends.

I've been digging through my 1E stuff lately. Sure, a lot of the memories and nostalgia kicks in, but I also prefer the rules and mechanics in many ways. I like some of the stuff in 5E, too, but it is just a different game. shrug

Yes, it is a different time, too. After playing for decades, a lot of it becomes stale anyway. There are only so many kinds of adventures, only so many hooks, nothing is new or unique anymore. The only reason I've enjoyed the last two years with 5E is because most of our group were new players and so sharing it with them (since it was new to them) made it enjoyable--but even that is growing stale and so we're moving on to Shadowrun, then maybe Vampire, then 1E, or something else. Who knows?

Then again, it might just be time to stop altogether. Again, who knows?
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Nostalgia is dangerous (I should know, I wrote a lot about it in my dissertation and touch on it frequently in my scholarly work), but it is a powerful force in our personal and social lives.

I have had to keep my own nostalgia from leading me to try to relive past events and relationships that could never be the same again, and from gaming with persons whose toxicity was making it difficult to go on and with whom the "good times" (though more memorable) were fewer and farther between at the gaming table (and beyond).
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
it’s a long post. If TLDR, whatevs. If interested read on.

—————————————————

The problem with 5e….is me.

I played a little redbox as a kid with the older kids on the street and later my lifelong pal. And by Jr High, we started playing some AD&D.
In High School we were joined by a few other guys that we went to grade school with. It was game on! Lots and lots of AD&D 1e. We did not like 2e for various reasons and skipped it. Fast forward to grad school and when I was home on break we kept playing….all summer long. All-nighters. It was glorious. None of us had serious relationships at that time so it was possible.

3e hit while I was working on a doctorate. I was far from home but my mind was blown when I saw half-orc paladins. Fresh from 1e, this was a revelation. Skipped 3.5 and 4e and fell into a black hole with little D&D. Our kids, marriages etc. took precedence but being back home and my lifelong buddies is a blessing. Now grizzled family dudes, the call of 5e was strong…our lives permitted at least monthly play. A new fantastic era!

So where is the problem?

I have loved 5e. I think much of it is brilliant. Not in the sense that it has revolutionary mechanics or some trendy elegance but in that it is easier to DM (I refused to DM 3e) and because it has inspired so much character development. We did what we could in 1e, but I have found the choices in 5e (backgrounds and subclasses) has been a goldmine of inspiration. I don’t mean to say that they have it all covered, but with some of my own ideas, they have it all covered. I have developed some novel stories and personalities.

My problem comes in with occasional
dissatisfaction about the level of danger in the game. It seems like people are healed quickly and unless it’s a TPK, it’s not as dangerous and getting beat down lasts a round or two max.
I also have some nostalgia for the logistics of old….worrying about running out of things like torches and food. Some things just seem easier now.

But that is when reality hits me. When we were younger, the way we really got far was by DM fiat. Sure, you could get level drained and miss a death save but more broadly, the DM moderated some consequences so we could have a longer term meaningful story vs. a meatgrinder of anonymous jerks. In short, 5e has merely codified this fiat into the rules. It may not be that different, really.

In terms of moving forward I need to alter my expectations and be clear about what changes might give us a little more sense of danger. For one, it would not take much to make healing a little less automatic. Maybe long rests don’t take care of everything. Perhaps, long rests allow us to expend hit dice…or something. I have to think that through.

The other thing that can at times be frustrating is the power of missile weapons. We don’t tend to favor them as a group but I know the issue exists. In this context, we need to make sure we are not the problem. I think it makes sense to count arrows and make sure what is carried is reasonable and not just “OK” handwaving generous encumbrance rules.

Additionally, I think very careful application of cover rules need to be applied. Firing past a rank of friendlies actively fighting should lead to some penalty if the enemy is in their face. I would want to see partial cover etc. applied routinely here.

In a like vein, the ubiquity of dex builds, if they bother you, are mitigated by actually looking at encumbrance and ammunition accounting (IMHO, to an extent).

In short, for me to get the most enjoyment out of 5e I believe a little stricter approach to the rules that exist, the application of common sense (e.g. encumbrance) and so forth. But ultimately, I need to change my expectations.

I look back fondly at AD&D 1e since it seems to have been grittier and more dangerous. Maybe it was. But the truth is that we house ruled and DMed way into a game with consequences but only occasional death. We made some bad decisions and died more than a few times. Saving or trying to save a friend from tunnels full of ghouls is admirable but perhaps not always doable (found out the hard way). And playing with an evil party and experimenting with a deck of many things after the players (the real people!) have been drinking beers to early morning hours will do that as well!

Ultimately the problem with my enjoyment at times (not too frequent) I think is due to nostalgia and fairy tales I tell myself about older editions. Having said this “out loud” I am very ready to get back to playing with less negative self-talk to get in the way. Our characters are probably going to survive. And its OK.
Good post & I agree with a lot of your points, but you miss the mark on one. We didn't rely on gm fiat to recover from things and such, the goodwill of the GM was important if you wanted to find those critical ace in the hole things like a wand of cure wounds, potions of whatever, Interesting magical equipment, etc. Doing that tended to involve actively sussing out whatever story/plotline/adventure path the GM wanted to run & trying to at least circle it with forward momentum.

Because recovery is so instant and with everything simplified to the point that the GM's quiver is basically empty when it comes to gradually improving magic item churn incentives the GM : Player relationship is pretty much "I'm gonna do basically whatever I want and you can't do anything without blowing up the campaign & walking off" rather than "how can I make my players have chances to be awesome & find things that make them awesome without breaking the game"/"This world of yours, I want to see what it holds by seeing where you point"

That doesn't mean that games were railroads then, just that there were a lot more tools to shape sandbox campaigns that didn't involve just removing every other option.

edit:Before someone says "have you tried slow natural healing gritty realism & heal kit depend?"... Yes they run as if written by someone who was told "we need to make some options for these here playstyles so write a rule for slow natural healing, gritty realism, flanking, & facing" before going on to write rules that fit within the letter of the request that but meet none of the needs of what gms/players looking to use those things expect
 


tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
5E has it's problem on its own without comparing it to older editions.

Doesn't appeal to everyone.
While true, it's pretty hard to ignore the way 5e's attempt to get away from some of the stuff the OP mentions cause or exacerbate a lot of 5e's problems by those attempts being done in a half baked manner that didn't understand or consider what ripples the change causes elsewhere. If the replacement worked well & was well thought out people wouldn't care about the old ways as much.
 

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